The 59 Club originally started in 1959 in London UK.
Leadership duties were taken on by Graham Hullett and William Shergold (1919 – 2009 ).
The 59 Club became well known, and attracted luminaries such as Sir Cliff Richard, Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon to its opening night, and later many motorcycling sportsmen and musicians.
For British motorcyclists, it was famous for being the first place in the UK to preview the previously banned biker movie The Wild One, in 1968.
From 1962 to the early 1970s, the club enjoyed fame as the top hang-out spot for British rockers and motorcyclists, and overall it created a positive archetype for the young members to follow, in the bad boys made good vein. The glory days of the café racer. Nights spent at the Ace Café, and membership in the 59 Club England was ground zero for a new culture that featured hot fast bikes and leathers. An entire generation of riders has been influenced by the style and spirit of the original rockers from the 1950's and 60's.
Their look and attitude was an amalgamation of styles heavily influenced by the changing times. Disaffected youths in Britain joined one of two camps the mods or the rockers. At the time, the Rockers were considered folk devils, due to their clashes with the scooter riding mods. The mods grew out of the style conscious teddy boys and rode scooters (Vespas & Lambrettas). A hallmark of the rocker culture, leather jackets, boots and jeans were essential attire. The rockers met at what we call truck stops with the most famous being the Ace Café. Rockers disdained drugs and booze, because it takes a clear head to ride at a ton.
Modifying these bikes to ride and race from one coffee bar to the next was a simple affair. Take a Triumph, BSA, Norton, Matchless, AJS, or Royal Enfield and add clip on handlebars. Ditch any extraneous bits and pieces, modify the exhaust, brakes and fenders and you have a basic Café Racer. Café Racer bikes became the rule. Take some youthful rebellion and the desire to be individuals add some horsepower and leather and you end up with the rockers. Rockers liked to ride hard and fast. The expression "Ton-Up" comes from the rocker lexicon, and means 100+ MPH.
The 59 Club profited greatly from the work being done by others in the Rocker Reunion Movement, which included a Classic Section, a sub-group of members dedicated to upholding the 1960s rockers subculture (fashion, music and motorcycles). During its 1960s heyday, the club may have been the largest motorcycle club in the world, with over 20,000 members, who had to sign up in person. Members came from all over the UK, and even Europe.
The 59 Club attracted both male and female members, and according to Graham, its success was based on its almost entire lack of rules. Besides motorcycles and rock and roll, the club involved activities such as football — which gave the youths, mainly from underprivileged backgrounds, an outlet for their energy. Each year, The 59 club organised ride-outs to famous motorcycle rallies such as The Dragon rally in Wales, The Elephant Rally at the Nürburgring in Germany, and to the Isle of Man TT races. The 59 BBQ event still occurs every year at TT in Laxey.
Towards the end of its heyday, the club saw the birth of a very different type of motorcycle club; American-style outlaw motorcycle clubs such as the London-based Road Rats and the California-originated Hells Angels. The rise of these groups, which tended to cater to an older, tougher crowd, pretty much marked the death of the 1960s rockers culture.
The 59 Club is now based in Plaistow, London and meets twice weekly. It remains a registered charity as established in 1965, and has evolved into a place where families and individuals are welcome. The difficulties and expense of getting a motorcycle license has pushed the membership age upwards, but members aged 18 to 65 still attend. The management committee has four members who have been helping the club since the 1960s. The club has been staffed purely by unpaid volunteers since the early 1990s.
The 59 Club has become recognized worldwide as a genuine motorcycle club with a rich history and branches all over Europe and many other countries in the world like the USA, Australia and Japan. Unique to the 59 Club — and one that sets it apart from other motorcycle club, is their loyalty to the English motorcycles they ride, and the music/fashion subculture associated with rockabilly, rockers, and cafe racers. The 59 club currently maintains links with both the Ace Cafe and the Rockers Reunion. In 2006, the club had over 29,500 members. Also worthy of mentioning is the fact that the club is not a ‘christian motorcycle club’ and has no church agenda. It merely started out as a church-sponsored youth group.
In 2005 the Australian 59 Club members started the official 59 Club branch and became incorporated in 2007. Some of the Australian members were members of the 59 Club in the UK back in the 60’s. The 59 Club has members in every state in Australia, with the two largest branches based in Victoria and Western Australia (see WA Branch Page). In Victoria, two major events are being held, the 59 Anniversary Run and the Mods vs Rockers Run from which money is being raised for charities. Members also participate in Classic Racing Events and the Club has its own Post Classic Race Bike. Club Plate Registration is also available to members under the Club Permit Registration Scheme.
The 59 Club Australia carries on the traditions of which the Club was created.
Rockers Forever! “The Legend Lives On”
The mods and rockers were two confilcting Briish youth subcultures of the early to mid-1960s. Media coverage of mods and rockers fighting in 1964 sparked a moral panic about British youths, and the two groups became labelled as fold devils.
The rocker subculture was centred on motorcycling, and their appearance reflected that. The rockers generally wore protective clothing such as black leather jackets and motorcycle boots (although they sometimes wore brothel creeper shoes). The common rocker hairstyle was a ompadour, which was associated with 1950s rock and roll - the rockers' music genre of choice.
The mod subculture was centred on fashion and music, and many mods rode scooters. Mods wore suits and other cleancut outfits, and preferred 1960s music genres such as soul, rhythm and blues, ska and beat music.